Here’s the thing. Classic doesn’t have to mean expensive. Neither does VIP. While folks might associate those things, there’s actually a whole selection of classic Euro cars that are great options for a budget conscientious purchase. This time on the VIP European Autos Blog, we’re looking at classic, budget-friendly Euro cars!
5 Budget-Friendly Classic Euro Cars
The Volkswagen Beetle
Specifically, we’re talking about the 1970-79 Beetle. The Volkswagen Beetle has a long history as a daily driver for all sorts of people, but as time has gone on the early 1950s Beetle has entered collectible territory, commanding a higher price tage than our budget list would allow (unless you’re looking at an example that needs a lot of work). The ‘60s era Beetle is also in high demand – so, to get the best Beetle-bang for your buck? Look to the final set of Beetles sold in the United States, the 1970-79 Volkswagen Beetle.
Beetles have the large safety bumpers, updated interiors and exterior lighting that make them a great option for modern drivers. Another plus? The engine in the later Beetles is larger and has more power compared to earlier models, and both manual and automatics were made available as time went on.
Thankfully the parts, service, and support for Beetles are as strong as can be which means you’ll be able to get your hands on what you needto keep yours running and in tip top shape.
All of that together means a later Beetle gets you some serious advantages as car you can actually drive around and it should be more affordable to boot.
The Alfa Romeo Spider
The Alfa Romeo Spider (105/115 series) is a two-seater, front engine, rear drive roadster manufactured and marketed by Alfa Romeo from 1966 to 1994 in four different series or generations. We are looking at the 1975-1994 Alfa Romeo Spider, or the 115 series, specifically.
Alfa Romeo produced a number of Spider models for decades. Early Giulietta Spiders are way out of our price scope here, so let’s look to the later Spiders from the mid-70s to mid 90s. These 115-series are the ones to look for as you start your classic car quest. There are the series-2 Spiders with large rubber bumpers and an engine that despite being fuel-injected had some power issues after being detuned to meet U.S. emissions standards. The series-3 Spiders, arriving in 1983 have a more advanced fuel injection system that gave the car it’s power (and drivability) back. In 1986 they updated the interiors, modernizing them pretty substantially. This batch are the ones you’ll want to look for as they’ll be in the best price range. Italian style plus convertible driving, the Spider is a great pick for a classic Euro. Parts for it are still available, sometimes through Alfa Romeo itself, and the prices aren’t awful when you need them.
The Porsche 944
We know, you see the P-word and you immediately think “Well this is going to be expensive.” Well good news, the Prosche 944, specifically the 1983-1988 Porsche 944. It’s not the sexiest Porsche, or the most valuable – but that’s not what we’re after! It’s a Porsche-engineered car! That means it’s got great handling, it’s comfortable, it’s easy to drive. The 944 has a few more practical features like a rear lift-up glass hatch, a spacious cargo area, two small rear seats, all of which come together to make it an even better daily driver – if you want it to be!
If you want to look for the most budget friendly 944, look for a 1983-1988 2.5 or 2.7 liter that’s been well maintained. If it’s from around 85-86 on the interiors will also have a nice refresh that looks much more modern than the original and features improved ventilation.
The Saab 900 Turbo
The Saab 900 Turbo is a classic. For 25 years it was Saab’s performance car, from 1978-1993. From start to finish it received a few updates throughout the production, including performances increases, 3 doors, 4 doors, convertible, and more. The 3-door hatch is the most commonly seen body style in the U.S.. It has an interior with enough room to seat four, the hatch opens from the top of the bumper showing off a large trunk and fold-down back seats.
While Saab went under during the 2008 recession, parts are still made making the 900’s lifespan a long one on the market. The Saab 900 Turbo was also made possible last year in the Japanese film Drive My Car.
The MGB is a two-door manufactured from 1962 – 1980 by the British Motor Corporation, then later un the Austin-Morris division of British Leyland. There are a few variants out there including the MGB GT three-door, the six-cylinder and eight-cylinder as well as the MGB GT V8. These were brought over to the United States in substantial quantity from ‘62 through 1980, and with almost twenty years of product available it makes it a great Euro car to start with!
All of the MGBs are rear-drive two seaters with a 1.8 liter, four-cylinder engine with four speed manual transmissions. Parts are readily available and the cars are easy to work on, making them a fantastic entry to the world of European cars. During the ~20 year stint of production there are a number of different designs, tops, interior refreshes etc. that you are sure to find a MGB that fits you.
Mercedez-Benz have been around for awhile and sold a ton in that time. The make and model we want to dial in on for this is the 1976-1985 Mercedes-Benz W123 Sedan. Mercedes sold W123s as wagons and coupes as well as sedans, but those models are in a bit hotter demand, making them a bit harder to find in the ideal price range we’re considering. So instead, opt for the sedan, as these made up almost 90% of the production! Just like other entries on our list, the W123 is a great option thanks to the access to cars, parts, and supply available for them. There’s also plenty of great mechanics know their ways around the W123 so finding one shouldn’t be a problem.
If you’d rather buy an older Euro classic and start restoring it, take a look at this list from Hotcars.com – you’ll see some familiar faces on their list to be sure! These are classic choices to dip your toes into classic Euro car culture.
If you need your car reupholstered, or need help detailing your new ride, you know who to call! VIP European Auto Interiors is here to help you keep your classic Euro ride looking fresh!